As many of you know, I've been reading Daniel Mattson's book Why I Don't Call Myself Gay. It's blowing my expectations out of the water -- absolutely fantastic in every way! I have about 80 pages left to read (and rest assured I will do a full review of it as soon as I'm done), but there was something that I read recently that I just had to share some thoughts on.
I have missed a couple of uploads over the past few weeks. I've been having a pretty rough time, most of it self-inflicted, but also some things that are outside of my control.
Sin has abounded in my life for all of my life -- this is true for each and every one of us. Still, our goal in life is to pursue a relationship with our Creator, and nothing will ever fulfill us the way that He can.
And yet, seemingly every day, maybe even every hour, I fall short. I stumble in sin, and I feel like I can't escape.
I can relate to St. Paul when he brings up his struggles and trials in his letter to the Romans:
"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."
I don't like sinning, but it's become a habit. I do the very things that I cannot stand doing, even in the midst of believing that I love God.
So often because of this, I've been tempted to run away from God. I run and hide; I avoid going to confession, and I allow myself to sink deeper and deeper into sin and self loathing. I'm so hard on myself because I hate falling short and I hate sinning, but I'm starting to realize that I have to be merciful with myself, and instead spend my time looking for ways to avoid sinning in the future.
I then began to notice a pattern in my life: I was sinning, going to confession, telling God that I wanted my life to change, and then not doing anything to change it.
"Something has to give," I would say over and over again in prayer.
Yes, this is true, I would have to give some things up, but they would also have to be replaced with something else.
Here's what I mean:
In Daniel Mattson's book, in the chapter The Wisdom and Example of the Saints, talks about how our desires must be transformed. We as human beings have powerful desires and passions, and that's not going to change anytime soon. But, the desires that may lead us to sin ultimately need to be transformed in order to redirect us to God.
Daniel quotes St. Jerome who gives us some insight on what we can do to redirect those desires to Christ.
"It is hard for the human soul to avoid loving something, and our mind must of necessity give way to affection of one kind or another. The love of the flesh is overcome by the love of the spirit. Desire is quenched by desire. What is taken from the one increases the other."
Daniel goes on to write, "We can't just extinguish the desires of the flesh; we need to replace them with somethingelse: the only thing that ever satisfies us, our Lord and Savior." (Italics added)
My biggest problem was that I was saying that I no longer wanted to have the desire to sin, but I wasn't taking steps to transform that desire.
As I mentioned before, by nature we have passions and desires and urges which can at times lead us astray, but they can also be transformed by the abandonment of our wills and the grace of God in order to direct us back to Him!
Back in high school, I became very afraid of my desires to be intimately loved by another woman. Now, I understand that that desire ultimately has to be transformed into a desire to be intimately and exclusively loved by God.
Our natural inclination to desire and to be passionate is not a bad thing! We are naturally ordered to be this way. However, disordered desires can get us into trouble if we don't fight to reorder, or transform them.
I'm no longer afraid of my passions, because I know what to do with them.
I know now that I must always go to Christ, the truest desire of my heart, and direct all of my desires toward Him.